Friday, October 21, 2005

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them"

Just a reminder, I won't be blogging on Thursdays through December due to group. I doubt I'll even blog on the Thursday that's Thanksgiving. I'll probably just try to kick back and relax that day. But there were two e-mails asking why I hadn't blogged Thursday.

Mike and I are doing the same headlines from Democracy Now! but before I get to that I want to note his interview with Wally of The Daily Jot. Wally's a sweetheart. At The Common Ills, members pick the blogs that are linked to. They do that by nominating them. The decision on the nominations is made by a committee of members. I've served on the committee twice. Including the one that lasted two months as we wrote the rules regarding linking and delinking of blogs. Wally served on those committees as well so I got to know him as we all debated whether to add this blog or that blog. He really is a sweet guy. As is Mike ("the puppy"). I think the interview they did is amazing.

"My Interview With Wally" (Mikey Likes It!):
[Mike:] Right, but Beth is the ombudsman. Back to The Daily Howler.

[Wally:] Well, it's like C.I. and I discussed in the round-robin interview. How do you miss Judy Miller? You're covering the press and you don't write one damn word on it. Until Wilson comes along and even then. How do you miss that? What's the biggest journalistic story of our time? Probably this decade will be Judith Miller and her WMD coverage but Bob Somerby's got nothing. That's his beat. That's what he's supposed to cover. Where the hell was he? That's a huge embarrassment. Now he wants to come along and piss all over the people raising issues and, me, I wonder how much of it has to do with the fact that he was sleeping on the job and missed the biggest story of the decade. Not just big because people talk about it but big because it was a stepping stone to war, not the only one, others played along too. But I mean, we're at war, Bob Somerby's f**king useless. He's a dottering old man saying, "Billy Kristol made a point the other day" or some other crap. He's useless. Take away his keys, he shouldn't be driving anymore. He's an old crank telling you the same old story for the 80th time and it's disgusting. "Bill Clinton in 1993 . . ." It's like, shine it on somewhere else you old fool. I mean, we are at war, people are dying and he wants to write about how nice his friend Mary Matilin is. It's like, "Shut up, go away." It's like the book by John Le Carre, The Russia House, where Katya tells Barley that she hopes he's not being frivilous because she only has time in her life for the truth. That's what a reader of Bob Somerby has to be thinking these days -- that he's just frivilous now and that in life right now, there just isn't time for that.Because?Because we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq and he's stuck jerking off on election 2000. And day after day, he's lecturing and making fun of all these people trying to say something like Atrios or Digby -- I don't even know Digby and never read him or her but I know I got sick of hearing Digby trashed -- when all he has to say is "My friend Al Gore" or "let's talk about test scores." I mean in his geezer circuit it's probably passing for news, the junk he's talking about. But where has he been on Judith Miller and where has been on Iraq period? That mattered in the last few years and matters right now. Not that Maureen Dowd told a joke he didn't like. And the roundtable, I read that thing and I started thinking, "Yeah, why is he trashing women all the damn time?" You can tell C.I.'s sick of him. That was obvious when C.I. pointed out that Katrina vanden Heuvel was right and that Bob was wrong. Bob's wrong a lot but what is it, one correction in a year?

It's a great interview. If you haven't read it, you're missing out.

FEMA Scandal Widens as Internal E-mails Are Made Public (Democracy Now!)
More details have emerged depicting the extent of the neglect and irresponsibility of former FEMA Director Michael Brown in his roll in the scandal of the government's handling of Hurricane Katrina. On Thursday, FEMA official Marty Bahamonde testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He was the first official from the agency to arrive in New Orleans ahead of Katrina. In the midst of the chaos and horror of the hurricane's aftermath, Bahamonde sent a dire e-mail to Michael Brown saying victims had no food and were dying. No response came from Brown. Instead, less than three hours later, an aide to Brown sent an e-mail saying her boss wanted to go on a television program that night. But first, the aide said, Brown needed at least an hour to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant, writing, "He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes." Some 19 pages of internal FEMA e-mails revealed Thursday show Bahamonde gave regular updates to people in contact with Brown as early as August 28, the day before Katrina hit. They appear to contradict Brown, who has said he was not fully aware of the conditions until days after the storm hit. Bahamonde arrived on Aug. 27 and was the only FEMA official at the scene until August 30. Subsequent e-mails told of an increasingly desperate situation at the New Orleans Superdome, where tens of thousands of evacuees were piled in. Bahamonde spent two nights there with the evacuees. On August 31, he e-mailed Brown saying, "estimates are many will die within hours." He described the situation as "past critical." It was just moments after that email that Michael Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner. Worthy wrote, "Restaurants are getting busy...We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

Mike asked me I remembered The Daily Scold addressing Brown? Yes, I do. I remember him slamming Maureen Dowd and Chris Matthews because they used a line Brown had said. As opposed to putting in every line he ever uttered. He was defending Brown's behavior, ironically with regard to a self-report of having a Mexican meal. Things don't go well for The Daily Scold these days.

Wally writes about The Daily Scold today. I haven't spoken to C.I. yet so I'm not sure if C.I.'s read it. Wally has a nice take on it (and a funny one) but the issue, for C.I., goes a bit deeper.
It's not just that The Daily Scold now wastes everyone's time, it's that it does so with an undisclosed reason. Wally doesn't know that and I'm guessing Mike doesn't either. But to continue linking or to delink has been an issue with C.I. since Rebecca was on vacation when a remark was passed on to C.I. and C.I. followed up on it. This isn't an issue where you find out someone has feet of clay. By that I mean, it's not that Somerby's holding back out of cowardice. This is more along the lines of The Daily Scold has presented himself one way all this time and there's a reality that's not disclosed.

At any rate, as late as Sept. 19th, The Daily Scold was still in Brownie's corner and saying that Brownie was "unaware of the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the Superdome." If he was "unaware" it was no one's fault but his own. The e-mails prove he was given a heads up. But what did he do? He needed his hour for a meal. So The Daily Scold now looks twice as useless.

U.S. Marshals Interrogate Reporters at Saddam Trial (Democracy Now!)
A Fox News reporter has revealed that US Marshals are overseeing security at Saddam's trial in Baghdad and have conducted interrogations of journalists, asking them a bizarre series of questions. Among the questions correspondent Dana Lewis says he was asked: "Am I friends with insurgents?" "Have I ever experimented with drugs?" "What is my religion?" "Are my teeth real?" At the end of the interview, Lewis says the Marshals asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph. He was then led to a room for an iris scan and fingerprints, which will be used as a physical identity check entering the courtroom for the trial.

This is what happens when Dexter Filkins & co cave in to military whims as though they're serving under the military and not actually reporters who are supposed to be independent of the military. There shouldn't be a litmus test for a reporter to have entry into Saddam Hussein's trial. They have press credentials. If there credentials are in order, let them in. If they're not, refuse them entry. But other conditions are added and the Filkins who've set the tone are responsible. Hidden in the Green Zone, allegedly calling off interviews when the military disapproves, they've created a situation that does have blow back consequences.

C.I. has a great editorial entitled "Reading press releases live from the Green Zone" that's a must read. If you're wondering how we ended up with such weak reporting coming out of Iraq, the answer can be found there.

Now let me note something that C.I. e-mailed me today.

"The Democrats' Abortion Hypocrisy" (David Lindorff, CounterPunch):
The pathetic pandering of various Democratic Party leaders, like Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton, to the anti-abortion fanatics represents the nadir of principle and integrity of a party that keeps demonstrating why it deserves to die.
I have nothing against a guy like Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful Bob Casey, a Catholic, saying he is opposed to abortion. That alone should not disqualify him or anyone from being a Democrat or even a progressive. But he needs to go beyond that to explain how a sincere belief on his part will impact on his job as a legislator. Because anyone who would act to restrict a woman's access to a safe, legal abortion must concede that the result of such restriction will be a massive surge in unsafe, illegal, and even self-induced abortions. That is, the rates of abortions in societies where abortions are legal and in societies where they are illegal are almost identical, but in one case women live and in the other they die or are maimed for life.
The same can be said for such outrages as parental notification laws. It may sound logical to say that a minor girl should have to tell a parent before undergoing a medical procedure as risky as an abortion, but the reality is that many teenagers would rather die (and well might) before admitting to their parents that they had messed up and gotten pregnant. As well, all too many pregnant girls are victims of rape or even of incest, and are afraid to go to a parent who may even be the perpetrator or the spouse of the perpetrator, for permission. Parental notification laws won't stop abortions-they'll just drive girls to risk death getting them illegally.
That's what makes the new "anti-abortion-friendly" positions of weasels like Dean and Clinton so obscene. They know all this stuff, but don't have the courage to state the obvious and take a stand. It's also what makes Democratic candidates like Casey so flawed.

For laughs, check out Betty's latest chapter at Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. It's called "Keeping Us Ill Informed" and it's funny and a wonderful commentary on the out of it New York Times.

Tonight's peace quote is dedicated to The Daily Scold. Don't worry he will grasp it.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
Alfred Adler